By Empava Appliances

Common Pizza Oven Mistakes to Avoid

Date:September 28, 2023

There’s nothing quite like the taste of a fresh, hot pizza straight from a blazing pizza oven. The lightly charred crust, melted cheese, and crispy toppings are hard to resist. But while pizza ovens can cook pizzas to perfection in just minutes, they can be unforgiving if you don’t use them properly. Avoid these common pizza oven mistakes on your next pizza night.

Not Preheating Your Pizza Oven Enough

One of the biggest mistakes people make is not preheating their pizza oven enough. Pizza ovens need to reach incredibly high temperatures - usually between 600-800°F for wood fired ovens and over 700°F for gas ovens. This level of heat is necessary to quickly char the crust and melt the cheese without overcooking the toppings.

Most ovens take around 30-45 minutes to fully preheat. Don’t make the mistake of only waiting 10-15 minutes and assuming your oven is ready. A partially heated oven will lead to unevenly cooked pizzas with pale, doughy crusts. Get a thermometer to accurately gauge the temperature inside your pizza oven. Wait until it’s near or at the manufacturer’s recommended temperature before cooking.

Overloading Your Pizza Oven

Pizza ovens are designed to cook pizzas quickly by exposing them evenly to the intense heat of the flames or heating elements. When you overload the oven with too many pizzas, it’s harder for the heat to properly circulate. This leads to uneven cooking.

Only cook 1-2 pizzas at a time in a typical pizza oven. Give them plenty of room to breath. Don't crowd them right next to each other. If you're cooking for a crowd, stagger the pizzas and allow the oven to recover back to full temperature between rounds. Rotating the pizzas mid-way through cooking can also help them cook evenly if baking more than one at a time.

Not Rotating the Pizza in the Oven

To ensure the pizza cooks evenly from crust to tip, it’s important to rotate it midway during cooking. The back of the pizza oven near the flame or heating element is always hotter than the front opening. So the back crust will cook faster and darker than the front.

Rotating the pizza 180 degrees about halfway through cook time allows the front crust to crisp up while preventing the back from burning. This should be done quickly to avoid heat loss. Just a quick turn with a pizza peel takes only seconds but makes a big difference in getting an evenly baked pizza.

Not Giving the Pizza Oven Enough Recovery Time Between Cooking

When you load a cold uncooked pizza into an oven, it causes the temperature inside to rapidly drop. High-heat pizza ovens need adequate recovery time to return to cooking temperature before you add another pizza. Don’t be impatient and immediately throw in pizza after pizza without allowing the oven to reheat fully between rounds.
For wood fired ovens, wait until the fire has returned to full strength with lively flames before adding another pizza. Gas ovens recover temperature faster than wood fired ones but still need several minutes between pizzas to reheat completely. Let the oven return to at least 600°F before cooking another pizza.
Common Pizza Oven Mistakes to Avoid

Not Using a Pizza Peel

A pizza peel is a must-have accessory for effortlessly sliding pizzas in and out of a hot oven. Trying to load a pizza without one is a messy and dangerous endeavor. Don't attempt to push or pull the pizza with your bare hands - it's a quick way to get burned.

Use a long-handled wooden, aluminum or stainless steel pizza peel to transfer the prepared pie onto the oven floor. You can give it an initial quick shake on the peel to prevent sticking. Then pull the peel sharply out from under the pizza once it's fully in the oven. The same peel is used after cooking to remove the pizza.

Not Allowing Ingredients to Come to Room Temperature

Starting with cold ingredients straight from the refrigerator will cause your pizza to cook unevenly in a pizza oven. The crust will burn while you wait for thick cold toppings to warm up and cook through.

Bring meat, produce, cheese and any prepared sauces to room temperature before assembling and cooking the pizza. Let refrigerated dough rise completely so it's ready to bake when topped and loaded into the preheated oven.


Picking a Dough That's Too Thick

Common Pizza Oven Mistakes to Avoid

Many pizza oven novices make the mistake of choosing or making deep-dish style dough. While tasty in a standard oven, thick and dense crust doesn't cook well in a fast and hot pizza oven. It will burn and char on the outside before the interior has finished cooking. For the high heat of a pizza oven, choose a thinner, neapolitan style dough. This allows it to quickly bake into a crispy, charred crust without overcooking. Let the dough sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours before rolling or stretching it out to maximize rise.

Skipping the Proofing Step

Allowing the shaped dough to proof before topping and baking is essential when working with fresh pizza dough. Proofing gives the dough time to relax and rise at room temperature after it's been stretched or rolled out. This helps prevent shrinkage and dense crust when it bakes.

After preparing the dough, cover it and let it proof for at least 30 minutes and up to 1-2 hours before topping and baking. The proofed dough will be slightly puffy and soft. Use gentle touches when adding sauce and toppings to avoid deflating the crust.

Not Letting the Pizza Rest After Cooking

Fresh from the oven, it's tempting to immediately slice into that hot pizza waiting on the counter. But allowing it a few minutes to rest first is key. The high heat of the pizza oven produces steam within the crust bubbles that needs to fully escape for a lighter texture.

Leave the cooked pizzas whole on a wire rack or wooden board for about 5 minutes before slicing. This prevents the cheese from sticking to the board and allows moisture to distribute through the crust evenly. A rested pizza will have a crisper crust.

Rushing the Cooking Process

For the perfect golden brown crust and melted toppings, patience is key when using a pizza oven. You can't rush through the process like you would with a frozen pizza in your kitchen oven. Take your time preheating the oven, prepping the ingredients, and allowing adequate cook time.

Don't open the oven door repeatedly to check the pizza. Just quick periodic peeks to rotate it. Opening the oven drops the temperature significantly. Cook times are usually very short (60-90 seconds) once your oven is fully preheated. Use a timer to avoid under or over baking.

Let your pizza oven work its high heat magic slowly for pizza perfection. Avoid these common mistakes on your next pizza night and enjoy restaurant quality results right from your own backyard.

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